de zerbi
de zerbi

De Zerbi: ‘I want to win with my style of football’


Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi explained that he feels ‘p****d off’ when he loses, but he wants to win with his own style of football. The former Sassuolo and Shakhtar coach gave a lengthy interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport, where he touched on his first season in the Premier League and the praise he received from recent treble winner, Pep Guardiola.

He also explained what he perceived to be the turning point for his Brighton team, outlining how his team showed a new way to approach matches against City thanks to his approach:

You arrive at Brighton in place of Potter who was doing very well. Complicated start, two draws and three defeats. The turning point?

“The subsequent 3-1 defeat against Pep’s City. The doubt with my staff was whether to choose courage or wait-and-see. In the end I threw my cell phone against the wall, yelling to my parents, ‘I didn’t throw away ten years of my life. Fuck! If we lose, I want to do it my way. We’re going to play for it. We will attack City in their own area.’ That’s never been seen before.”

And there Pep said the first good thing about you.

“Now there will be a new way to play against City, a way before Brighton and a way after. So he said. The next week we won 4-1 against Chelsea.”

In Italy, meanwhile, there is still debate about whether the result or the beautiful game should be pursued. Allegri and others explain that football is a simple thing.

“I don’t agree. It cannot be a simple thing when you face 22 men, with all the variables involved. Above all, I don’t think only the winner can speak. I think the result is the last thing….”

And here the discussion starts again….

“If I lose I’m pissed off, but the result doesn’t justify everything. I’ve given my life for football, if I stopped only at the result, a penalty in or out, I would feel like shit. I want to win with my style. Style is who you are in what you do.”

What is your relationship with your former players?

“With 95 percent of them… we love each other. I bond a lot with the most sensitive ones. Berardi, Antonio Vacca, Iannello. And Boateng. The most sensitive football player I ever had.”

The talent that you considered a losing battle?

“Schiappacasse. I had him at Sassuolo. Incredible potential, unique sensitivity. Behind him, a difficult childhood. When I heard he was arrested for possession of a weapon and narcotics, I wondered if I could have done more to help him.”

You love talent. It’s like you’re looking as a coach for the perfect story, the one you couldn’t give yourself as a football player.

“I had the great ass of two lives. One as a football player to understand, the second as a coach not to make mistakes. Character penalized me as a footballplayer.”

One coach you particularly clashed with?

“With almost everyone. Very strong clash with Cosmi, except I then regained a good relationship when he was no longer my coach. Pasquale Marino one of the few who was able to get me. I respect people like him, like Mazzone and Ranieri. Real and loyal men.”

The talent you enjoyed watching grow.

“Locatelli. I would take him anywhere. So, Berardi: he is like a child when he plays soccer. He wants to have fun. Great kid, introverted like few.”

Do football players give a damn about fans?

“Not mine. I was born a fan in the Brescia curva. From Tuesday we lived only for the Sunday game. After six years at Foggia I would never go to Bari. Just as I would never go to Atalanta.”

Does your family continue to cope well with your football pathology?

“A backup question? I often see my daughter Elisabetta who is studying in London. My son Alfredo plays football, he is not as sick with football as I am, and he is not pleased that I go to see him. He carries a cumbersome name. Neglecting the family is the dark side of my profession.”

Outside of football you would perhaps be a misfit….

“I don’t know. I have very few real friends. I left home 30 years ago. I was 14 years old. Football gave me everything and I gave everything to it. We are equals. Football is always there for me, even at four in the morning. If I call my mom or my children at that time they are asleep. Football is there.”

Is there no life outside of planet Football ?

“Between a Champions League final and a Vasco Rossi concert I would have no doubt, I choose Vasco. He makes me cry. Every year I dress up and go to two or three of his concerts, with my daughter, on the lawn, mixed with the people in the first rows. I even have Vasco tattooed on me….” (he shows me Vasco’s face on his arm).

Anything else?

“Verdone. He drives me crazy. I would give anything to have dinner with him in Rome, a city I love.”

Spalletti and his Napoli.

“The victory of the game. Of a coach no longer young but always hungry to improve. Like me, but I am 20 years younger. If I look at myself in 20 years, I don’t see myself as intense. Attention to detail is the peculiarity that makes him great. Similar in this as well.”

He will be Mancini’s successor in the national team.

“He deserves it all and I am sure he will do very well.”

When will you return to the fold?

“As of today there are no conditions, but I will come back for sure, I am Italian and I love Italy. I have another 2 years of contract here and I am doing well, but I am a meteoropath. I need the sun, the light.”


Serie A obsessive.